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Sewickley Academy tennis looks forward to PIAA tournament

| Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
The 2017 WPIAL Class AA champion Sewickley Academy girls tennis team includes Aleena Purwal, Emma DeSantis, Victoria Keller, Alina Mattson, Evelyn Safar, Olivai McLeod, Simran Bedi, Lydia Elste and Christina Walton.
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The 2017 WPIAL Class AA champion Sewickley Academy girls tennis team includes Aleena Purwal, Emma DeSantis, Victoria Keller, Alina Mattson, Evelyn Safar, Olivai McLeod, Simran Bedi, Lydia Elste and Christina Walton.
The 2017 WPIAL Class AA champion Sewickley Academy girls tennis team includes, from left, coach Whitney Snyder, Aleena Purwal, Emma DeSantis, Victoria Keller, Alina Mattson, Evelyn Safar, Olivai McLeod, Simran Bedi, Lydia Elste and Christina Walton.
Submitted
The 2017 WPIAL Class AA champion Sewickley Academy girls tennis team includes, from left, coach Whitney Snyder, Aleena Purwal, Emma DeSantis, Victoria Keller, Alina Mattson, Evelyn Safar, Olivai McLeod, Simran Bedi, Lydia Elste and Christina Walton.

A young Sewickley Academy girls tennis team (15-4 overall) looks forward to spreading its domination in the PIAA Class AA championship tournament.

The Panthers, the WPIAL champion, will play the District 9 champion in the first round Oct. 24 at a site to be determined. The winner will advance to Hershey, where the rest of the competition will be Oct. 27-28.

The Panthers breezed through the WPIAL championship, dropping only one point in four matches. They downed Knoch, 4-1, in the final Oct. 4.

Freshmen Evelyn Safar, Simran Bedi and Christina Walton compete in singles and senior Lydia Elste, junior Alina Mattson, freshman Victoria Keller and senior Olivia McLeod in doubles for the Panthers, who earned their first WPIAL title since 2014 and fifth since 2008.

McLeod expects states, where the Panthers won in 2011, to be challenging.

“We know that although we have worked really hard, we cannot settle on our success,” she said.

“Our (achievements) will be earned through the hard work we put in the time leading up to and during (the tournament).”

The Panthers, the Section 4-AA champion, lost in the regular season to Upper St. Clair, Pine-Richland, Fox Chapel and Mt. Lebanon in nonsection matches. Pine-Richland and Mt. Lebanon placed second and third, respectively, in the WPIAL Class AAA championship.

Panthers coach Whitney Snyder said the defeats put things in perspective, and he expects the team to get better.

Snyder said a lot of credit goes to the captains, Elste and Mattson, for bringing every one together.

“Lydia and I made an effort to do activities that would help us bond,” Mattson said. “I think this is one of the main reasons for our success.

“We support each other, but also realize our individual contribution to the team.”

Elste said she and her teammates are coming off a high after winning the WPIAL crown.

“We plan to carry that energy with us through the state playoffs,” she said. “Our first goal is to (make it to) Hershey.

“After that, we want to have a great round and compete the same way we did in WPIALs, with the same amount of drive and determination, and have so much fun during this process.”

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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